State Secretary for Culture Roth: Trusting in the contribution of others

Photo: THOMAS PETER/ Reuters

Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Greens) wants to avert the closure of the Stalag 326 memorial in East Westphalia. The background to this is that the Gütersloh district council had refused to contribute to the operating costs. Roth criticized this and announced that she would ask those responsible at the state and municipal level for a clarifying discussion.

Actually, it is planned to expand the memorial in Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock. However, the plans are threatened with extinction after the Gütersloh district council did not approve the subsidy of 400,000 euros (read here in more detail what happened).

According to the board of directors of the Friends of the Memorial, the CDU and AfD, among others, opposed the participation. This decision "has deeply affected and shocked us," the board said on Saturday. The memorial will remain closed until further notice.

Roth spoke of a dangerous precedent "if the Gütersloh CDU, with the support of the AfD, stops financing an important memorial and thus risks its closure." The cost sharing was rejected with 33 votes in favour and 36 against.

The CDU parliamentary group criticizes above all the costs that would have resulted for Gütersloh. In addition, the Christian Democrats argued on the ground, the majority against the participation would have come about even without the participation of the AfD.

The Bundestag had already pledged 60 million euros for the expansion of the 25 million euro project – "trusting that the other parties involved will also make their contribution," Roth said. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is to contribute the rest. North Rhine-Westphalia state parliament president André Kuper (CDU) had made a strong case for the expansion of the memorial. According to the plan, the annual operating costs of around 4 million were to be borne by counties and cities in the area.

"The memory for the future of war and violence that emanated from National Socialist Germany must be a democratic consensus," Roth said. The site sheds light on a chapter of German history that is still far too little known.

From 1941 to 1945, more than 300,000 prisoners of war, mainly from the Soviet Union, were housed in the camp as forced laborers. Many of the inmates died, including from forced labor, and tens of thousands are buried on the site.